Are you new to the globalization industry? If so, then you might have noticed that sometimes people talk about “translating” content, but other times they prefer saying they are “localizing” or “globalizing” it. Are they talking about different processes? The answer is “YES”.
Let’s start with the most familiar term: “translation”. According to GALA (Globalization and Localization Association), translation is “the process of converting all of the text or words from the source language to the target language. An understanding of the context or meaning of the source language must be established in order to convey the same message in the target language.”. This core concept will be kept when “localizing” or “globalizing” content as well, except that the last two have an extra shade of meaning.
When you localize content, you are concerned not only about expressing the same idea in another language, but also about adapting it to the specific culture (customs, currency, calendars, preferences, etc.) to make it sound nice and natural to the target audience. This is what was taken into account when the title of the 6th book of the popular Harry Potter saga, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” was localized into Latin American Spanish. Instead of localizing “Half-Blood Prince” as “príncipe mestizo“, they preferred using “príncipe misterioso” (“Mysterious Prince”). The reason? Latin America has a colonialist background and the use of the term “half-blood” might result offensive to the Latin American audience.
Finally, when you globalize content, you focus not only on translation and localization, but also on business, financial, technical and management processes to make your content available to the world. Transferring an idea from one language into another is just a portion of the pie: you should now think about preparing your source content to have it easily and quickly localized into multiple languages, administrating time and budget to meet the localization objectives and defining the localization and distribution tools to be used, among many other things.
So now you are prepared! Next time you hear someone talking about translation, localization or globalization, you will be able to really understand what they are saying!